Joomla gets search, database reinforcements

Joomla sites can now be run using SQL Server and PostGreSQL

The newly released edition of the Joomla open source content management system now comes with a new search engine, and can use Microsoft SQL Server or PostGreSQL, in addition to MySQL.

Joomla 2.5, released Tuesday, also can now alert administrators when a new version of the software is ready to be installed directly from the administrator's home page.

"Multi-database support is a huge step forward for Joomla," said Ryan Ozimek, president of Open Source Matters, a nonprofit organization supporting the content management system software. "No longer will Joomla developers be tied down to a particular database or have to spend more money and time integrating other software to get Joomla to communicate with their database."

Previous versions of Joomla were hardwired to use only one database, MySQL, Ozimek explained. Administrators not wanting to use MySQL could write their own connectors, using PHP (Joomla is built on PHP), but this entailed a lot of work. Now, the installation procedure includes a module that offers a choice of databases to use, based on pre-built connectors.

The multi-database support will help make Joomla more appealing to organizations that have already designated another database as the standard one to use across the enterprise, Ozimek said. Now they can run Joomla on their preferred databases, rather than maintaining a single copy of MySQL, he said.

For this release, Joomla will support SQL Server and PostGreSQL. Ozimek expects more choices will be made available as others write connectors for their favorite databases, ones that can be plugged into the module. The upgrade was built in such a way that Joomla can execute many standard SQL commands across different databases, without administrators worrying about commands that are specific to one type of database.

The core Joomla package also includes a new built-in search engine. The engine, which was originally available as an extension, offers a number of advantages over linking into an commercial search service such as Google's. It can use the metadata that is tied to the content in Joomla, allowing for better search results. It features stemming, the ability to infer additional search terms based on the root of the term being searched against. So a search for the word "raining" would also return results for the word "rain" as well as "rained." It also features auto-completion, the index for which is built from the site's content.

The automatic notification feature was previously available on a page for managing extensions. The new notification appears on the administrator's home page, and provides the ability to download and update the software with a few mouse clicks. This will make it easier for administrators to update their Joomla installations, given that they might not have seen the update notifications if they didn't visit the extension page of the site.

Open Source Matters estimates that Joomla is run on over 1.6 million Websites around the world, including those run by Citibank, MTV, Ikea, McDonald's, Harvard University and the International House of Pancakes. Updates are released to this software every six months.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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